Don’t you just love this time of the year?
It’s when the silly season for trade rumors begin and players you never thought would be touchable all of a sudden look like they’re on the way out. Of course, we usually can’t tell the difference between actual smoke from someone in the front office and the crop dusting done by agents looking to drum up a market for their client.
Yesterday, we got perhaps the biggest one so far when it was reported that the Rays are at least considering dealing Blake Snell this offseason. Now, you’re probably wondering the exact same thing we all were wondering when this news was dropped: why? Why would the Rays even consider trading their ace when he is still quite affordable over the next three seasons. Well....it’s the Rays.
A source noted that Tampa Bay is not actively shopping Snell, who has three years and $39 million remaining on his five-year, $50 million extension, but given the financial losses the Rays endured during the pandemic-impacted 2020 season, trading the 27-year-old represents the club’s best chance to create some much-needed flexibility.
We had already assumed that the pandemic would be causing havoc around the league this offseason, but if there is even a whiff of truth this, then perhaps we underestimated how much “trouble” some of these teams are in as a result of not having fans in the stands.
Even still, when all is said and done, it’s probably more likely than not Snell stays in Tampa Bay mostly because they would be worse without him. The AL East is still very winnable next year and trading away their best pitcher would dampen their chances at repeating as division champions no matter how good manager Kevin Cash is at running a bullpen.
However, that isn’t all that fun, assuming that Snell is going to stay. It’s always much more fun to theorize what it would take to acquire said talent and when it comes to the Phillies, that talent would fill a pretty large need in their rotation. Even with Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler at the top, there is still plenty of issues behind the two of them.
- Is Zach Eflin going to be able to continue his growth as a starting pitcher?
- Is Spencer Howard going to be able to take the leap forward in 2021 that he wasn’t able to do in 2020?
- Is the team going to bring back Vince Velasquez for yet another edition of “Starting Pitcher Routlette”?
- Is there enough depth available in case someone goes down to injury?
- Do they want to spend what “little money” they have this offseason on getting a big starting pitcher?
These are all fairly significant questions for a team that has aspiration of making the playoffs next year. Adding someone like Snell would answer quite a few of them.
So what would it take?
Surely by now, we are all aware that the team’s minor league depth, and quality of that depth, is not that highly regarded by talent evaluators. They don’t possess that “blue chip” prospect that is just a can’t miss waiting to arrive. Even their best prospect, Howard, has a big question mark attached coming into the season. And acquiring Snell would almost certainly cost them a package of prospects that would seriously dent their ability to supplement the roster with young cost effective talent ready to produce.
That being said, it’s pretty obvious where the package would have to begin.
Any deal for Snell would have to include Bohm as the centerpiece as he has shown that he can get it done at the big league level and still possesses quite a bit of upside to his game. He can plug in at third base in Tampa Bay, a position that they have struggled to fill with a long term solution since the days of Evan Longoria. He would remain relatively cheap for the next six season, something Tampa Bay would surely find appealing. So including him to begin discussion certainly looks mandatory.
Does Spencer Howard have to be included as well? Tampa Bay is a factory for churning out pitchers that can succeed at the big league level as starters and Howard would likely benefit from whatever tutelage that their program could give. He may not jump right into the rotation down there right away since they are deep enough as it is, but he wasn’t ranked in the top 30 prospects for nothing. Tampa Bay would surely find him appealing as well.
So if the team had to include the two of them, there would at least need to be another top ten prospect, someone in the 8-10 range, needed to seal the deal, with a lower arm/bat as a wild card sweetener. The top ten guy, using Baseball America’s recent list, would mean discussing names like Simon Muzziotti, Johan Rojas, and Nick Maton. Lower level names are players like Logan O’Hoppe, to pique team’s interest that doesn’t have a lot of catching depth in their own minor league system, or Mauricio Llovera, a projectable arm that could develop into a solid bullpen piece.
Creating a framework of a deal, it would probably start like this:
Snell for Bohm, Howard, Muzziotti and O’Hoppe
Of course, as well are well aware, that’s a nonstarter from the Phillies perspective. It decimates the lineup by removing Bohm, forcing them again into spending money on a player that might be past his prime rather than entering it. Howard is their top pitching prospect and with what the team has on the horizon, he’s the only impact are they have coming any time soon. Losing Muzziotti and O’Hoppe wouldn’t be too much of a loss, but it is just more depth in the minors that the team would have to part with, particularly when it looks more and more like they’ll need it.
But what if they could talk the Rays out of including Bohm? After all, while Snell is really good and still has three years left of control, it is for actual real money ($39 million). It may seem a pittance to pay for a pitcher who has won a Cy Young award, but then we have to remember that Tampa Bay would be trading him for the reason that they couldn’t afford him. It’s crazy, but it’s also what was written in the report.
So, if the Phillies could talk them out of trading Bohm and include perhaps Bryson Stott, maybe the deal would have to include another prospect in addition, making the deal look like this:
Snell for Howard, Stott, Muzziotti, Llovera and O’Hoppe/Rafael Marchan
Is that something that might get the Rays thinking? Is that something the Phillies might consider? Is that even close? More than likely not. There are easily other teams that could put together a package that is more appealing than this. If the Padres wanted to, they could beat this deal without even losing their status as a top five system. In fact, San Diego is the exact team that should be doing a deal like this, but that’s not what we’re here for.
Yet, if the Rays were to
collectively fall on their head and in fact ask the Phillies for this exact deal (Howard, Stott, two 8-10 prospects, a 20-25 prospect), is that something the team should be doing?
Should the Phillies trade Spencer Howard, Bryson Stott, two #8-10 prospects, a #20-25 prospect for Blake Snell?
This poll is closed
Too rich for my blood
I’d consider for a long time, but ultimately, no
Hold your nose and say "yes"
It’s a Cy Young award winner on a cheap deal. Yes!
Listen, we all know that even this package is probably too light to get Snell. Like I said before, there are other teams that could beat this package easily, But it’s also probably the only one the Phillies could reasonably put together that gets Tampa Bay to pick up the phone.